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Cablegate: National Tainan University Campus Becomes Flash

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: National Tainan University Campus Becomes Flash
Point in Tainan Mayoral Election

Ref: TAIPEI 3900

1. On September 12 Taiwan's Ministry of Education approved
National Tainan University's expansion plans on the
condition that the school return two thirds of its campus
land that is located in the heart of the city. The Ministry
intends to take the land in exchange for the monies needed
by the school to open a campus outside the city. School
authorities complain that there is no precedent for national
universities to return campus land for the purpose of
funding an expansion.

2. The National Tainan University, which was founded a
hundred years ago in Tainan City as a normal university, was
planning to expand its current campus to additional land it
has acquired in Chiku, Tainan County, without relinquishing
any of its facilities in Tainan City. The University
conceived of the plan not as the sort of relocation now
being forced on it by the Ministry of Education, but as an
expansion that would add a branch campus to accommodate
students outside the city.

2. In support of National Tainan University's expansion
plan, KMT Tainan mayoral candidate Chen Jung-sheng in
conjunction with KMT and PFP city council caucuses,
initiated a signature drive on September 20, urging the
Ministry of Education to change its policy on the return of
two-thirds of National Tainan University's city campus
lands. KMT Legislator Wang Yi-ting said she would ask the
Ministry of Education to review the plan. Wang also
declared she would propose to boycott the education budget
in the legislative session. More than ten thousand Tainan
citizens participated in the signature drive.

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3. The willingness of Tainan citizens to petition stems
from their dissatisfaction with the Executive Yuan's
decision on the city campus issue. They noted that
President Chen Shuibian is a native of Tainan but his
administration has failed to support the city and protect
its major educational asset. Citizens see a lack of equity
since National Tainan University is the only national
university that, upon making plans to expand, has been
required by authorities to return campus lands as part of a
"forced relocation."

4. Facing criticism from the KMT opposition, Tainan Mayor
Hsu Tain-tsair said he has been negotiating with the central
government authorities to preserve the school's city campus
and that he has confidence that the school would not move
out of Tainan City or its campus be traded for the expansion
budget. Local political observers say the campus issue has
become a flash point in the upcoming mayoral election in
Tainan (see reftel).



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